The Missing Link Reviews

Missing Believed Lost

by Allan Kyles & David Meeker. BFI Books. Paperback. 109 pages. 14.95

Missing Believed LostIt took me quite a while to pick this one up. I had frequently been sneaking into Dillon's Bookshop reading what I could without actually having to buy it. As I got deeper into the book, it began whispering for me to take it home. This book purchased me!

Missing Believed Lost comprises of a list of some eighty films currently lost and vital to the chain of British cinema's evolution. Lavishingly illustrated, the first entry is A STUDY IN SCARLET (1914) directed by George Pearson. This was one of the few dozen or so Sherlock Holmes productions that were made before the outbreak of the First World War and one of those that remain lost.

Other plights include the loss of 1916's version of She, Alfred Hitchcock's THE MOUNTAIN EAGLE (1926), the grim crime drama Condemned to Death (1932) and right up to 1945 with the loss of Warner's musical production FLIGHT FROM FOLLY. Also of great interest is a listing of missing documentaries and television programmes.

There is a happier tale to tell of Walter Forde's The Ghost Train (1931) when five reels of the film were discovered along with two reels of the soundtrack. Although not a complete recovery, this is better than nothing as the film stands as a precurser to Will Hay's magnificent Oh! Mr. Porter (1937) and "Big Hearted" Arthur Askey's lampoon vehicle The Ghost Train (1941).

It is extremely distressing to learn of the careless decay and sometimes willful destruction that some of these films have faced, while any discovery is always hailed with a sense of satisfaction and a certain amount of relief. However, the hope remains that many of the productions listed remain under a coating of dust waiting for discovery in the attics and vaults around the world. Unfortunately time is running out, the longer any film made of nitrate stock remains unfound, then its eventual decay and destruction is inevitable.

In a bid to encourage us to look out for any of these missing gems Missing Believed Lost leaves us with a thought that is fully endorsed by The Missing Link,
"To find just one of these films intact would justify the cost of publishing".

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